Could Crist Have Made the Difference?

Florida hasn't joined the ranks of states presumed lost to McCain, but Republicans there are worried. Newsweek has a piece about the GOP's circular blame ...
by | October 21, 2008
 

Florida hasn't joined the ranks of states presumed lost to McCain, but Republicans there are worried. Newsweek has a piece about the GOP's circular blame game, which notes, among other things, that Gov. Charlie Crist has lately been easier to spot at Disney World lately than at a McCain rally. And then yesterday, all the blogs cited Crist's remark to CNN, in which he suggests that fellow Gov. Sarah Palin offers the ticket no help among independents.

Remember the days when Crist was constantly by McCain's side? He helped deliver the Florida primary with a well-timed endorsement, which had the effect of putting away the rest of the GOP field in time for Super Tuesday. Crist for a while appeared before McCain at every election night victory rally and spent almost as much time traveling with him as Joe Lieberman.

But that was then. McCain obviously didn't pick Crist for the ticket and his campaign didn't even keep him high on the months-long speculation list. Would Crist have been a better choice?

It's easy to make the case. Palin has indeed hurt the ticket among independents, while Crist has enjoyed support even among Florida Democrats during parts of his tenure. If Crist were on the ticket, I seriously doubt that Florida would be in play. I'd bet plenty that the reason he wasn't considered was that McCain didn't think he'd need help in Florida.

It's hard to know how Crist would have played nationally. Still, I would certainly rather be running a Crist vice presidential campaign than the Palin show.

Having said all that, I don't think Palin is at the root of McCain's problems (although she's been tarred as such in one newspaper endorsement after another lately. And there was this poll showing

Palin's qualifications to be president rank as voters' top concern about McCain's candidacy - ahead of continuing President Bush's policies, enacting economic policies that only benefit the rich and keeping too high of a troop presence in Iraq.

But McCain would be losing anyway. And while it's fair to say that she's been an overall drag on the ticket, it's also true that she remains a darling of the base. (I predict many profitable speaking gigs in her future.) That would not have been the case with Crist.

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